"We have captured Red Four, sir. We are keeping her under close guard. However, she claims to be Joy Eleven, not Red Four, and wishes to contact Admiral Alpha to have him verify her identity."
"I see." Idiot. "I am afraid Admiral Alpha is unavailable just now. He is attending a very important meeting. I am screening his calls while he is Admiral Becker's guest on the Nixon. But please forward your transport coordinates. I am familiar with the Red Four case, and should be able to verify the android's identity."
"Have you determined what Four is doing operating in this area?"
"Uncertain, sir. She is operating with a female Cardassian claiming to be a Starfleet officer. They also have a human accomplice. We've got the human on bribery charges. We believe their mission was to secure food supplies for a Romulan invasion. We haven't gotten to the bottom of this yet, but with the Cardassians, Romulans and Charador pirates all involved, it has to be big!"
Idiot. How should I use this guy? "You can not begin to understand how big. Listen. Admiral Alpha himself is under investigation, and this case could be linked very high up indeed. Please don't let news of this leak back to the Hawking people. Be very careful about accessing Alpha's data bases. His people are likely monitoring to see if their plots are going awry. Sit tight on everything. I will beam to your location shortly."
Thus making sure this fool kept himself ignorant, I took a few minutes to figure out what was coming down. Could this Joy Eleven possibly be Black Seven, Red Four's Federation programmed twin? Several minutes on the computer proved enlightening. Seven months after that bleeding heart Judge Taixir pronounced reprogramming emotion chip androids to be cruel and unusual, Joy Seven had been enlisted in Starfleet Academy. After successful service with USS Aurora, two other copies had been replicated. One of these copies had been assigned to USS Hawking, and treated as sentient no less.
Typical Alpha. Only three female androids and fewer female Cardassians in all of Starfleet, and he'd managed to get one of each assigned to his antique excuse for a 'ship'. He was promoting them up the ladder as well. How are we going to keep the captain and admiralty slots under human control with alien lovers like Alpha and Roc in charge? Well, Alpha had made his mistake, killing all those pre-starflight clone things. That's one down. Roc would have her turn. Meanwhile, perhaps something could be done about his pet Cardassian and android?
I beamed direct to the security building where 'Red Four' was being held, and was met by several grinning fools. "This way, sir." A youngster with one and a half pips seemed to be in charge of guarding a garden. It was obvious he was chosen well for the importance of his task. "We've got her!"
I managed somehow to keep a straight face. "How are you certain this is Red Four?"
"All the physical stats match, from skeletal structure to fingerprints. We've also been showing her pictures of all the people she killed. She's been claiming her pre-academy records are under court seal, saying she is sorry, and crying, sir. No doubt. She's guilty."
Red Four has never been sorry for anything in what passes for her 'life'. This was definitely one of the reprogrammed wimps. "Is she wearing a necklace?"
"Yes sir. Number eleven. That is a flimsy sort of disguise."
With her wearing her native pattern hair, face and fingerprints, that was an understatement. Didn't he know why Four was so difficult to catch? "Perhaps I should take a look."
"This way sir!"
Through two force barriers, and in a cell with a reinforced force door, there she was. I'd seen images, of course. I'd never encountered an actual Joy class unit. Quite an achievement, and not just the realism of the physical structure. One could read the emotion chip state quite easily. Foremost was shame and sorrow. That would be a mixture of being under arrest, and the twits reminding her of the people she killed. But underneath was a quiet dignity, even in this cell. I wondered at that. Of course. If she hadn't done anything wrong - if she had obeyed orders as her programming demanded - she'd still be getting a pride feed from her Asimov processor into her emotion chip. I asked, "Has she been searched?"
"Three tricorder scans and the cell scanners, sir."
"But no manual search? Four is very tricky."
"I'll call Shandra, sir, if you feel that is necessary."
"Don't be stupid. It's just a machine. Against the wall, Four."
I'd known the Joy class had been designed to keep Harcourt Mudd amused on his isolated rock, and that he was perhaps the second most oversexed man of his era, behind only James Kirk. I knew the skeletal design was pure human, with no alterations at all for machine efficiency. I'd known that realistic texture of the muscle and skin materials was a higher priority than strength or structural integrity. Still, the degree of realism was uncanny.
And you could feel clearly two different programs kick in, the original hardwired responses to a male's touch, and the newer Federation program triggering shame at attracting a male's attention in public. As designed, the newer programming overrode the original impulses. By the time I finished the 'search', the stupid android was shaking.
What sort of idiot was Alpha? Here he had a copy of Red Four - perhaps the next best killing machine to a Sheem battle spider - and he'd put her on every bridge station *except* Tac, in nearly every department *except* security, and given the thing private quarters to boot. Well, things change. If the Federation can make two copies, they can make more. If programming can be changed once, it can be changed again. Praise be that Alpha botched up that clone mission!
The 'search' took care of the android's pride nicely. I remember thinking Alpha would be next. I was hoping Alpha's eyes would be as expressive as the machine's. But suddenly the machine's expression changed, and I heard footsteps behind me. The machine yelled something I couldn't quite catch. It sounded like, "Cat walk no!"
Somebody grabbed me by the collar, said "Against the wall!", and I swear he tried to put me though the wall. Head first. Nose first, if you want to be specific, though I've had to have a couple teeth replaced as well.
When I woke up, it seemed like everyone was trying to prevent this steroid addicted brute from killing me. It took me a while to figure it out, but it soon became clear that this mutant monster had slipped his mind for some reason. As there were six guards, and only one monster, it seemed safe enough to stay out of the way and let them subdue him. Unfortunately, the brute was rather large, more quick, and extremely strong. The six became five, then four, then three in rapid succession. Then two cowards dove through the door, and popped the force field up.
How dare they? I mean, he wanted to hurt me! It was their job to stop him, wasn't it? Seriously, how would I escape? This nut case had obviously lost it. His eyes met mine, and without saying a word, he made it clear that he was going to disassemble me very slowly. He walked across the room, rubbing his fist, ignoring the one guard remaining. His full attention was on me.
But suddenly he was flying backwards across the room. Surprised him. Surprised me. I think it was only at that point that either of us realized that the only guard not to run wasn't a guard at all. It was the android.
"Joy, just get out of my way."
"I can not let you hurt him." I laughed. Stupid stupid machine! She was even wired to blame herself for the damage that mister muscle had already done!
"That fellow needs his attitude adjusted."
"I can't let you, Cat."
"Just get out of my way." He strode forward. She interposed. Their arms blurred, each trying to get a grip on the other. She succeeded first. Again, he was pushed back. Again he returned, only this time more determined.
It was the funniest fight I'd ever seen. I've seldom seen a man so consumed with anger, nor a 'lady' so determined to stop him, yet neither one wanted to hurt the other. Are you familiar with Terran sumo wrestling? That's what it turned into. Except instead of knocking each other out of a circle, muscle brain was trying to get past, while the machine was trying to block him.
I'm afraid my laughter didn't help any, except to get mister muscle more and more mad. He was doomed to fail, though he didn't know it. Eleven was indeed Black Seven's copy. He tried his superior reach, and she answered with quickness. He tried quickness, she responded with programmed skills. He tried skills, she turned into a ghost, refusing him a grip. He tried his superior strength and weight, only to find his strength more than matched in that frail seeming woman's body. Again and again the brute tried to break through into my corner of the room, each time to be thrown gently back into the opposite corner.
"Stand down!" Neither reach nor skill nor strength are important when your new opponent has five pips. The battle seemed over. I had won.